Travelling alone can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. A rite-of-passage at any age, it’s a chance to explore the world on your own terms, without the need to pander to the wants of a travelling companion.
The proliferation of budget airlines offering cheap flights means circumnavigating the globe with a backpack is easier and more affordable than ever. For female backpackers travelling alone, the world has become a much safer and more accessible place. But there are still plenty of tips that women travellers can follow along the way.
Always do your homework before embarking on a solo trip. Study the safest routes for female travellers and always be aware of the possible dangers in a particular country you are visiting. If possible, arrange most of your travel in advance to avoid being ripped off, or at very least have a good idea of how to travel from a to b along every leg of the journey. Check out the local customs and laws as these will vary from country to country, but might inform your journey.
Always carry some kind of personal safety device, even if it’s just a whistle to attract attention in a sticky situation. Also pack a first aid kit in case you find yourself alone and in need of basic medical supplies. Never accept lifts or offers that involve you being alone in an unfamiliar place. Most of the time these will be genuine gestures of hospitality, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Choose your accommodation carefully
At the end of a long day it can be tempting to head for the first available hostel bed, but always choose a hotel or hostel that’s popular with other travellers, and try to find one with plenty of fellow female travellers.
Dress for the occasion
In some countries women are required to wear certain clothing, particular when visiting religious sites or even when walking down the street. Always be aware of local customs to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
Keep in touch
You may be travelling alone, but modern technology means you are never more than an email or phone call from a familiar voice. Always let somebody back home know of your exact travel plans so that if anything does happen they can raise the alarm immediately. Regular contact with friends and family will also be a boost during those inevitable home sick moments that every traveller experiences.
Make friends with other female travellers
Travelling is all about visiting new places and making new friends. Finding a female friend to hang out with at various legs on the journey is both fun and a good way to stay safe. Women who travel in groups are less likely to be targeted as a soft touch.
Don’t panic and never be afraid to ask for help
Although there will most likely be nerve-wracking moments, solo backpacking is an unforgettable experience. If you do get into some sticky situations, don’t panic, and don’t be tempted to jump on the next plane home at the first hurdle. Never be afraid to ask for help when you feel uncomfortable.